What is the correct word when I want to say something about multiple instances of software? Like "there are a lot of word processors out there, but all those software?? dont have feature x"
- Software in plural (not one, but many things) is just software — It's an non-countable mass noun and is always treated as a singular object, even if more than one title or item is kept in mind — whereas softwares is deeply and horridly incorrect and programs should instead be used.
- Your example should be like this:
- There are a lot of word processing programs out there, but all those programs lack feature x.
- There is plenty of word processing software out there, but much of it lacks feature x.
- There's also a wordreference.com forum topic that discusses this.
- -Mardus 18:11, 5 February 2008 (UTC)
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- RFV failed, adjective section removed. (BTW, that link is not to an adjective hit. It took me a bit to figure out what that writer is saying, because (s)he's misspelled "A is to B as C is to D" as "A is too B as C is too D", but once you've got that, you see that software is being used as a regular non-count noun.) —RuakhTALK 02:18, 8 August 2010 (UTC)
1953 and 1956 usages
Through a Google Books search, I uncovered two print usages of the word "software" that predate John Tukey's 1958 publication, and which I believe are the earliest known print usages of the word in its modern engineering context:
14 August 1953, Carhart, R.R., A survey of the current status of the electronic reliability problem (link), page 65:
- "It will be recalled from Sec. 1.6 that the term personnel was defined to include people who come into direct contact with the hardware, from production to field use, i.e., people who assemble, inspect, pack, ship, handle, install, operate and maintain electronic equipment. In any of these phases personnel failures may result in unoperational gear. As with the hardware factors, there is almost no quantitative data concerning these software or human factors in reliability: How many faults are caused by personnel, why they occur, and what can be done to remove the errors."
The same author uses the word again in the same sense, in a later publication:
1956, Carhart, R.R., “The Systems Approach to Reliability”, Proceedings, second National Symposium on Quality Control and Reliability in Electronics, The Institute of Radio Engineers, page 149:
First, the scope of the program should include the entire system. As an example a missile system includes the vehicle and warhead, the auxiliary ground or airborne equipment, the support and test equipment, and the operating personnel. In addition, the interactions between these various elements, hardware and software (people) must be recognized and included as the glue that holds the system together".